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Lori's Farm Diary for Shute Fruit and Produce

23 May 2018

We had a great time at Devon County Show, despite missing our elderflower cordial.  More on that later.

Lori had a set of fresh strawberries dipped in chocolate as bride and groom.  The white chocolate was decorated as for a wedding dress, the other was like a tuxedo for the groom.  It certainly raised a smile with the BBC who tweeted a photo.  There is one in our photo gallery on the website, too.


Meanwhile Dave, no slouch in raising a smile, was sporting a badge that read “I married an American, too.”  I am sure I don’t know what he means.  I certainly wouldn’t want to marry one.


After pushing the Food and Drink stewards for five years to start a preserves competition, it was a surprise to learn that they did so this year, including a baking competition, all for homemakers rather than professionals.  Next year Shute Fruit will be sponsoring the preserves side of things, I felt it only right to try my hand at the baking competition.  Sort of putting my money where my mouth is.  Well, dear reader, I was so surprised on Thursday morning to see a first for my scones and a first (and reserve champion) for my Victoria sponge.   Cream teas on the farm won’t be the same ever again.


We usually aim to have the first batch of the season of elderflower cordial for Devon County, which is always the third week in May.  This year the flowers, due to the cold spring, are rather later, so we had none to sell.  But our elderflower cordial was being made into delicious cocktails at the Dart’s Farm tipis pairing it with Salcombe Gin.  You probably know that THE ever important wedding cake was elderflower flavoured sponge with lemon curd filling and elderflower icing.  Well, we will be selling the first batch of this elixir of life and love at Teignmouth Farmers’ market 26 May.  It is never too late to enjoy its refreshing flavours. 


14 June 2013

I love to do food shows. Sampling our products with the most critical and sensitive palates from all you lot makes me realise that there is life outside the kitchen.

When I do my preserving I kick everyone out of the kitchen, turn on radio 4 and get chopping.  Or boiling.  Or even in the rare cases of marmalade, shredding.  Enjoyable as it is, it is most rewarding to hear the critical feedback on the tastes and textures produced in the jars. 

For instance, my latest concoction is a mixture of rhubarb and strawberry jam.  Since our own rhubarb didn’t take last year, but Dart’s farm had a bumper crop, they very kindly pulled some just for me to make jam.  So out came my library of preserving books.  It is intriguing to read all the beguiling recipes for various versions of jams involving rhubarb. It became too confusing, so, the first version of the jam was based on my mother’s:  half strawberry, half rhubarb.  So, thanks mom, but it was too sweet for my adult taste. 

I cut back on the amount of strawberries for the second batch.  Better, so you could taste the rhubarb, but still the strawberries were overwhelming.

Third time, I followed the example in one of the books by adding an orange.  The whole orange. Ah, nearly there.  Another go, reducing again the strawberries, adding the orange… perfect for my tastes and the guys at Dart’s liked it too.  But it needed a great name to go with the fab flavour combination; just like mocha is a mixture of coffee and chocolate.   We decided on Rhuberry.  Part rhubarb, part strawberry, one great taste.

              We launched Rhuberry Jam at Devon County Show in May with some great publicity in the papers.  HRH Camilla had a taste when she visited the stand and gave it a favourable nod.  In fact, she asked if it was included in the food hamper she was presented from all of us the food tent!  





21 July 2012

It has been a very mixed year for farmers everywhere and here at Shute Fruit and Produce we are finding it difficult too.  Dave is convinced once it does stop raining we will be in for a severe drought. 


In the meantime I’ve been having a great time preserving.  The most recent Preserving the Harvest class made beautiful six fruit marmalade which was as tasty as it was colourful. The addition of limes really makes the flaours sing.  David has nearly finished the first pot.  Then earlier this week I made strawberry jam for the Western Morning News—look out for the Saturday 22 July edition.  We had a proper cream tea, Bread and Butter Pickle sandwiches, scones and cream with strawberry jam, rose petal shortbread courtesy of the Husbandry School rose petal sugar, and even a Victoria sponge.  The photographer, Steve, does an amazing photo shoot.  I never thought my jam looked so inviting. 


The very next day I had a jam session at Teign Academy in Kingsteignton. Following a visit to the farm I went to their cookery facilities and 22 childern made summer fruit jam, broad bean salad and leek and potato soup.  They did amazingly well to get it all cooked and on the table.  Parents—your children do eat broad beans!   There was very little left in the serving bowls.  The surprise for me was they provided their own bacon for the salad from the school pork.


Our broad beans are doing well considering the weather.  We are still waiting for the Imperial green Windsor to start producing, but there are lots of flowers on the plants.  Our red currants look to be a good crop too—as long as we can get a net over them before the birds start in.  Now if we can get enough sun for the sunflower and sweet corn.




27 October 2011

With the wind howling and the rain pelting the windows it seems autumn has really come.  What a change from the glorious weekend we had in Dartmouth for their fabulous food festival.  If you weren’t there, make a point now to pencil it in for next year.  The whole town participates in this foodie festival with plenty of celebrity chefs about, cookery demos, children’s tea party, special menus at all the restaurants, and lots more.  Best of all, most of the activities are free, with a nominal charge for some of the workshops. 


Due to popular demand Chris Hunt and I have been putting together a special Christmas preserves workshop.  Called Christmas in a Jar, these will take place on Saturday 12 November and Sunday 20 November.  Posh pickled shallots for Boxing day, very  merry Cranberry Sauce and Chris’ fabulous Chilli jam are some of the hightlights.  Book now as the spaces fill quickly.  Ring 01626 777570 or email for more information.


The Pick Your Own field is closing Sunday.  It has really been a challenging season with difficult dry weather in the spring, and persistent pest problems.  Corn fed venison any one?  Balancing this out was our amazing autumn raspberry crop.  The size, flavour and abundance reminds us all that Mother Nature does have a sense of fairness.   


Time now to kick the preserve making into high gear for the busy Christmas periods.  Keep an eye on our Events page to find us out and about, especially during December.  Why not make time for one of our gingerbread house workshops at Occombe Farm or River Cottage canteen in Axminster?  Booking is direct with them, but we’ll see you there!

31 July 2011

Time always seems to slip away quickly on the farm.  David has been having his hands full with planting and weeding, I’m very busy in the kitchen with the preserves. 


We had a great two days of preserve making courses.  One of the participants reports after the course she claimed two first prizes and two second prizes for her preserves and scones in her village show.  Did you know we not only teach the basic techniques of preserving on the course but close the day with a slap up cream tea—including freshly made scones so we teach you how to do that too!  It really is value for money, and great fun.  Even Chris Hunt, washer-upper extraordinaire (she prefers the French term, but I can’t spell that) finds some fun during the day despite doing all the dishes. I mean ALL the dishes all day long.


Our next course (we try to run them back to back) is Saturday 8 OR Sunday 9 October.  Contact me for more details or to reserve your place.


Almost every night David has spotted glow worms on the farm.. Finally, I got out the camera and I am trying to put a few photos of them in the gallery, so have a look.  For a great guide to glow worms check out  And yes, we have filled in a survey form to record our sitings.  What was more interesting is that they have a record of sitings in Bishopsteignton from 1991, which is before we started farming!. 

30 May 2011

We had a great time at Devon County Show alongside our fellow members of Food and Drink Devon in the fantastic and busy food tent.  It is always a great show, and for once the weather was like Goldilocks perfection—not too hot like last year, and not too wet like all the years before.  We have a saying it always rains at Devon County Show.  Except this year.


This prolonged drought makes great weather for tourists and royal weddings, but terrible for the crops and growing.  Although we have irrigation on some parts of the farm, we cannot water all areas, the main one being our strawberry crop.  If we don’t see some rain clouds soon it could be a difficult season for us.  So, we were looking forward to the Devon County Show even more than usual. 


Stokeinteignhead, the lovely little village with the long name just across the river from the farm held it annual festival of food this month.  The atmosphere was delightful with accordion music and sunshine, good food and gossip amongst the neighbours and friends.  A perfect afternoon for all.  We didn’t need to worry about rain here either!


It is a cliché that all Brits talk about is the weather.  It is also the subject of most agricultural conversation.  So being British Farmers must mean that is all we have to talk about.  Not exactly true, but it does seem to be my theme this month.  Rain dances in our honour truly welcome. Will we ever see black clouds again?  More importantly, once it comes, will it know when to stop?    

30 April 2011

What an amazing Exeter Food and Drink Festival.  We’ve been attending this lovely food fair for years, but there was something really special this time around.  Was it the wedding?  Was it demonstrating with Toby Buckland in the Fermoy’s tent?  Was it winning the Darts Farm Food is Fun Festival Awards for our raspberry jam?  Don’t rightly know, but the magic was definitely there!


We know good weather always helps lighten the mood, good backup and organization sets the tone from the minute we roll up to set up the show, and seeing friendly faces—fellow artisan producers behind the stalls and customers in front—always brings a smile.  We also know it is important to try to have something new to entice jaded festival goers to try something extraordinary.


This year we introduced jamtastic truffles.  Best quality chocolate mixed with our own jam and a dash of liqueur makes for a lower fat alternative to these special treats.  Without the added cream it also means our truffles don’t need refrigeration and will store longer.  But we have yet to prove that!

28 February 2011

We had a great time at the Preserves Master Class at the end of February. Here is what the participants made and took home with them at the end of a busy day:

We did work well together to make all that from scratch and had time for cake at elevenses and toasted crumpets before packing it all home! Poor Chris, our amazing washer-uper (it sounds better in French) was kept extremely busy all day. In fact, we had so much time we even squeezed in a session on Jammy Truffles. They were so good, I am now experimenting with the recipe (it's really hard work, but somebody's got to work with chocolate) and hope to be able to sell the first ones at the next Teignmouth Farmers' market on 19 March. Do come and find me, if you can, I need your feedback on them!

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